I can run a quick scroll through my memory Rolodex and recall moments when I received good correction versus the times I received corrections that made me bitter and defiant. When I say “good correction”, I mean that clearly I was in the wrong with something, but the way in which someone approached me to discuss it with me was much easier to understand how/where and/or why I was wrong. I’m sure all of us have similar experiences. How, as Christian men though, do we approach, give and especially receive correction? I believe that how we receive correction says a lot about our heart. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20) I also believe that verse applies to how we correct our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those without a relationship with Christ.
Many books and chapters of the New Testament are letters from the early church (Paul, etc.) who were correcting mistakes and sinful actions in the various churches. First Corinthians is a great example. Read the following on how Paul wrote to them after listing many grievances to the church in Corinth…
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
It’s important when we seek to correct someone we do it with their well-being in mind. By doing so, we would be concentrated on how they receive it, and in doing so present in a fair manner. As fathers, the Bible tells us to discipline our children, but it also says for fathers not to create bitterness in their children, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” If we approach correcting others in that style of love and care that we would also have for our children, I believe there’s better chance of reception.
As a personal experience on this topic, I play in a softball league in my community. About a year ago, I was not living life as a Christian and my moral compass was more than slightly skewed, to say the least. There was a night during a playoff game in which I lost my cool with a member of my own team. He was struggling to throw strikes to the other team and I had zero patience. Then another mistake was made and I lost it, so much that I threw a ridiculous fit about it in the dugout. Incredibly embarrassing to think about. Later that night in the parking lot, my pastor who is also on the team approached me. I thought I was going to be told I wasn’t welcome to be a part of the team any longer. Instead, my pastor and great friend Justin looked at me and simply said, “Brian. I know you’re competitive and want to win, but the way you spoke to Joe, it really hurt him man. He feels terrible about it. I know you don’t mean to hurt him like that, but it did and I think you should consider apologizing and talking with him.” That was it. He thanked me for listening and walked off to his car. He told me what I did was wrong, and gave me the choice to make it right. He didn’t react to my wrongdoing in anger. He spoke to me carefully, at a level he knew he could reach me on. He cared for my passion, but also told me I was wrong. What a beautiful example of God’s mercy, love and guidance to do what is right. Side note, I can’t describe in words what Justin means to me in how he lovingly helped guide me to Jesus over the past year. I hope one day to live my own life in a way that blesses what he did for me.
I’ll end this post in a quick prayer.
Jesus, please hold us close to you. Be present with us in our daily lives. Grant us discernment when we should reach out to others, but also let us carefully and mindfully look at ourselves with the same tenacity to correct ourselves. Let us be open and receptive when others correct us and seek to keep us focused on you. Thank you for your continual grace and mercy. We love you Lord. Amen.